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Strange Bedfellows at the National Center for Science Education

People who trade in contentious ideas, advocating and defending them before the public, are well advised to be careful about what kind of other people they join with in partnership. The other day I mentioned briefly the interesting datum that National Center for Science Education Deputy Director Glenn Branch had co-edited a now notorious issue of Synthese on "Evolution and Its Rivals" with a leading 9/11 Truther, University of Minnesota professor emeritus James H. Fetzer.

I hadn't given much thought to Fetzer, other than to say that the New York Times noted his conspiracy interest. But then Branch's NCSE colleague Josh Rosenau, the Darwin-lobbying group's Programs and Policy Director, stimulated me to take a closer look. Rosenau chides me for tracing parallels between Darwin activism and 9/11 Truth conspiracy theorizing. After all, Joshua points out, there used to be an anonymous pro-ID blogger somewhere out there in the big wide Internet, a fellow called "Bilbo" who holds to 9/11 conspiracy thinking.

I'd never heard of Bilbo or read any of his posts. His relevance to the issue at hand seems, obviously, pretty non-existent. But to link your name with a guy like Fetzer in a public fashion, as Glenn Branch did, well that's very different. It practically begs us to inspect Fetzer's credentials.

Choosing to share your ideological bed with someone who holds a foolish, naïve, or eccentric view on this subject or that is one thing. Alternatively, you may have an associate who's got an ugly idea or two, but at least it's not his main mission in life to promote that idea. Fetzer, on the other hand, I realized from checking out his writing and TV appearances, goes way beyond any of that. And it's not a sideline for him. It's currently the main focus of his "scholarship."

The guy is straight from the fever swamps. He's on record, again and again, as promoting absolutely vile ideas about how the U.S. government, specifically Vice President Cheney, directed 9/11 with help from "neo-cons" and the Israeli Mossad. He's been on TV on various occasions getting chewed out for his view by Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, both quite effective at doing so. So Fetzer has been far from keeping his view private. On his website he will, for example, lift an article straight out of an anti-Semitic website, the American Free Press, and publish it in such a way that at first glance it appears to have been authored by Fetzer himself. A sample of the kind of talk he publishes:

"9-11 was a murderous Israeli false flag operation with Jewish and gentile American helpers (sayanim). It was intended to fool Americans into becoming enraged at Muslims and into fighting Israel's enemies for her, all the while picking up the tab for these wars and giving Israel billions outright."
His most recent blog post describes the BBC/Mossad connection:
With 9/11 being used primarily to facilitate the epochal process identified by sociologist James Petras as "The Globalization of Zionist Power", the BBC's infiltration by likely Mossad affiliates makes perfect sense.
When William Buckley founded National Review he made a famous and wise ruling that no writer could appear in the pages of NR if that same writer also appeared in the pages of another, then-existing conservative magazine, The American Mercury. Why? Because the other journal promoted vile anti-Semitic nonsense. Buckley judged that if his magazine wanted to have any credibility, he'd have to draw a bright line separating anyone associated with him from anyone associated with the fever swamp.

I'd like to ask Glenn Branch of the National Center for Science Education, and his colleagues Eugenie Scott, Executive Director, and Josh Rosenau, why they do not feel inclined to adopt a similar policy?